Posts

Metal (and Horse) Lover: The Steel Sculpture of Anne Behlau

forkupine porcupine fork steel metal sculpture anne behlau art

Forkupine — a metal sculpture of a porcupine fashioned from forks. Steel metal sculpture by Anne Behlau of Milton-Freewater, OR

If you ever have a run-in with a porcupine, you’ll probably remember the experience. Anne Behlau certainly has.

“When I was a six-year-old child, a porcupine came into the tent I was sleeping in with my brother on a mountain pack trip,” the Milton-Freewater metal artist recalls.

“It ate the tops out of my cowboy boots.”

horse equine metal steel sculpture anne behlau art

Metal Horse, steel sculpture art by Milton-Freewater artist Anne Behlau

Years later Behlau, who creates steel sculpture from found, repurposed, and recycled metal, fashioned a forkupine, a whimsical, 3-D statuette of a porcupine created from forks.

A Family History of Metal and Blacksmithing

A retired registered nurse, Behlau grew up on small farms, and has been involved with animals all her life. As a young adult she moved to Dayton and raised four children on a 100-acre farm on the North Touchet, and after the kids grew and flew, went back to school for her RN degree. After 27 years of working in the medical field, she retired and turned to the welder, torch, and blacksmith forge. She now also trolls through salvage yards, junk piles, yard sales, and farms looking for metal materials to transform into her art.

“My father was a blacksmith and farrier,” Behlau explains. “My brothers continued the tradition as well as my nephew.

“Since there was such a strong family tradition of blacksmithing, I was drawn to metal work utilizing welder, torch, and forge.”

There is a learning curve, she says. In the three years she has been honing her skills with her tools, she has encountered challenges along the way.

Red Hot Metal

“Working with red hot metal can be tricky and painful at times if you are not careful,” Behlau says. “The upside of working with metal is that, unlike with wood, if you cut it wrong or put it together wrong, it is very forgiving.

small scotty dog animal sculpture metal steeel anne behlau art

Small Scotty Dog, metal sculpture by Anne Behlau, artist from Milton-Freewater, OR

“It can be cut apart and rewelded until it looks how you want it. It just takes patience and persistence . . . which I have a lot of.”

Citing a love for all things cowboy, Behlau expresses enthusiasm for creating metal sculptures of horses, ranging from the whimsical to serious.

“I have a lifelong love for horses. I’ve competed in horse shows, trained horses, team roped, barrel raced, and ridden in endurance rides.”

While raising her children, she threw herself and them into 4-H and FFA. Nowadays, that love for horses comes out in the work of her hands.

metal rose steel sculpture art anne behlau

Yellow Rose, metal sculpture by Milton-Freewater artist Anne Behlau.

Behlau does not limit herself to equine subjects, however. All farm and ranch animals, as well as porcupines, attract her interest, along with flowers, people, and graphic design shapes. Her two Scotty dog pets provide constant inspiration, and she has created a 30-pound Scotty sculpture using sections of heavy walled metal pipe, as well as a tiny Scotty, fashioned from a railroad spike. People who see both sculptures express surprise over what makes up the finished product.

Turning Metal Scraps into Art

From forks to garden tools, from scraps of farm machinery to old horseshoes, they all find themselves with new life in a new shape, after a little bit (or quite a lot, actually) of heat and inspiration. What Behlau ultimately creates depends upon the materials she has gathered, along with ideas she picks up from the Internet, personalized by her own spin.

Working out of an unattached shop/garage at her Milton-Freewater home, Behlau markets her work as Anvil Annie Metal Art. She has sold her pieces as a vendor at festivals, through her Facebook page, and at Hamley & Company Saddle and Western Store in Pendleton, OR. Learning as she goes with “a little instruction along the way,” she never quite knows what she will make next, but is certain that it will reflect her love for country and for country life: its people, its animals, its lifestyle.

“My art,” Behlau muses, “is inspired by things that are deep in my heart.”

Wenaha GalleryAnne Behlau is the Featured Art Event from Monday, March 25 through Saturday, April 20 at Wenaha Gallery. She will be at the gallery Saturday, April 13, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for a special Spring Art Show, where she will be joined by Kennewick photographer John Clement and Dayton jewelry and nostalgia journal artist Dawn Moriarty.

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment.

 

Copper Wheat metal sculpture by Richard Czyhold, Wenaha Gallery guest artist

Upcycled Chic: The Recycled, Refashioned Art of Czyhold Metal Design

Copper Wheat metal sculpture by Richard Czyhold, Wenaha Gallery guest artist

Copper Wheat metal sculpture by Richard Czyhold, Wenaha Gallery guest artist

One of the challenges of living in a throwaway society is that we are in danger of losing our connection to the past. For example, it’s difficult to comprehend that the ubiquitous plastic gallon milk jugs, which most of us see as trash, are possibly the blue-glass medicine bottles of a century ago. By the time we realize that what we call junk isn’t always rubbish, newly appreciated material may not be around anymore.

An altar design and pulpit by Ben Czyhold

An altar design and pulpit by Ben Czyhold

Thanks to imaginative, foresightful, and artistic people like the Czyhold (Sea’-Hold) family, however, the stuff of the past is not doomed to be buried in landfills. The three-person team — consisting of Richard and his recycled metal sculptures; Richard’s wife Judy and her recycled copper and found object jewelry; and the couple’s son Ben, a working blacksmith — creates new fashions from old things, or, in the case of Ben, from old techniques.

All three work in designated studio spaces at the Walla Walla family home, which continues to operate as a working farm. Indeed, it’s that farming background that launched the whole process, beginning in 1995 when Richard was commissioned to create a sculpture for the neighboring Bunchgrass Winery. Inspired by nature as well as an innate drive to recycle and reuse , he looked around at what he had — a vast quantity of farm machinery parts — and saw, not junk, but future native grass, cat tail, and wheat sculptures welded and melded from metal.

“‘When farm machinery is repaired, most farmers have what is known as a bone yard where they pile all the worn out parts,” Richard explains. “On our farm, we try to reuse parts, but when that is no longer possible, they become artwork.”

As the family became more involved in metal design, they found, ironically, that they didn’t have enough extra material to keep up with demand,  so they started looking around for more.

Bracelet by Judy Czyhold

Bracelet by Judy Czyhold

“We use found objects that come from all different sources, auctions, and yard sales,” Richard says. “Many times, other farmers and clients will bring me parts, bits and pieces of unusual things.”

Not all of these unusual things wind up in Richard’s sculpture, especially if Judy gets to them first. Using traditional metal smith techniques of riveting, brazing, or soldering, Judy transforms disparate matter such as recycled copper roofing, electrical wires, engine parts, and pieces of 40-foot aluminum sprinkler pipes into bracelets, necklaces, and earrings with no twin on earth.

“Scrounging in the junk bin at the shop has produced many great found objects to incorporate into my pieces,” Judy says. Literally, it’s a treasure hunt.

Fortunately for the couple and their voracious appetite for salvaged materials, their son Ben works primarily with new steel. What is old in his art is the occupation itself — blacksmithing — and the venue in which he does it.

Ben Czyhold in his blacksmith shop

Ben Czyhold in his blacksmith shop

“My shop is on the family property,” Ben says. “The overall design and layout of it was influenced by another blacksmith shop that once existed on my family’s land over 70 years ago.” Ben creates everything from household hardware to architectural ironwork, maintaining a product line of small hardware and decorative pieces for sale at various venues. And while much of his larger work — like a customized wrought iron porch railing, or gate hinges shaped like a fleur de lis — is not portable, he is, transporting the necessary equipment to the Walla Walla Farmer’s Market to do live forging demonstrations near Richard and Judy’s vending booth. Beginning in June, the family will also show at the Richland Farmer’s Market.

“We meet such great people from all over the world at the markets, and they really enjoy seeing Ben hammering,” Judy says. During the off-market season, the trio travels to 6-8 arts and crafts shows throughout the Northwest.

It’s something new from something old, beauty from trash as opposed to rising from the ashes. And thanks to the cosmopolitan nature of today’s community markets, Czyhold creations are in homes throughout the United States, as well as Europe and Japan. Innovation is timeless, Richard points out.

“Our favorite part of the whole process is taking something that would have been thrown away and transforming it into something that brings a smile.”

Wenaha GalleryCzyhold Metal Design is the featured Pacific Northwest Art Event artist from Monday, May 23 through Saturday, June 18. There will be a special show Saturday, May 28 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the gallery, where Richard and Judy will be on site with their artwork. A short distance away, at the Dayton Historic Depot, Ben will do live forging demonstrations from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Free refreshments provided at the gallery.

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

Wenaha Gallery is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional customized framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit at 219 East Main, Dayton, WA.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.

 

Events

Nothing Found

Sorry, no posts matched your criteria